Medicaid rules are complex, so it’s not surprising that there are now specialists who focus solely on helping people establish eligibility for Medicaid benefits. If you want to find a cost-effective way to qualify for Medicaid without spending all your assets on nursing home care, you generally have two choices for assistance. You can work with an elder law attorney or you can consulta a Medicaid planner.

What’s the difference? And how do you know what type of professional can provide the right guidance for your situation? It’s helpful to understand the background and role of these professionals before choosing a professional to assist you.

Medicaid Planners Come from Different Backgrounds

A Medicaid planner is an individual who has studied the Medicaid system with a focus on helping individuals plan to achieve eligibility for long-term care benefits. Planners who meet certain standards can market themselves as Certified Medicaid Planners, or CMPs. The standards are set by the CMP™ Governing Board.

CMPs can come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some may be social workers, nursing home staff, and medical administrators. Some have a financial background, and some may even be attorneys. However, unless you ask, you may not know what their qualifications are. If they’ve passed the tests to become certified, that is a good first step, but it only tells part of the story.

Before hiring a Medicaid planner, it is a good idea to find out about their expertise with the laws affecting Medicaid eligibility, their understanding of financial issues, and the clients they’ve helped who are in a position similar to yours. For instance, if you own a home, ask the planner what steps you need to take to keep from being forced to sell the house during your lifetime and how you can protect it from being taken away after your death by the Iowa Medicaid estate recovery process.

Elder Law Attorneys

An elder law attorney has general legal knowledge as well as focused knowledge about the regulations and requirements pertaining to systems designed to assist the aging population including Medicaid, Social Security, and VA benefits. They also have the knowledge and experience to create effective trusts and other legal mechanisms to protect assets such as your home.

Beyond the Medicaid planning process, elder law attorneys can help with nursing home contracts and allegations of neglect or abuse from a caregiver. In addition, they can set up a system to prevent the need for guardianship or, if it is too late for alternative measures, they can help families secure guardianship for loved ones.

Elder law attorneys are required to keep up with regulatory changes, so when the law is adjusted to provide more opportunities or establish tighter requirements with respect to eligibility, they can help applicants prepare.

At Huizenga Law, we develop comprehensive plans to help families accomplish their goals in the present while preserving a legacy for their loved ones. So we can prepare long-range plans that conserve maximum resources while establishing eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits. If a need arises suddenly, we also know short-term strategies to establish qualifications without unnecessary loss of assets. We understand the big picture, but we also know how important it is to get the smallest details just right.

Which Professional is Right for You?

For most individuals and families looking for assistance with Medicaid, an elder law attorney is going to be able to provide more comprehensive assistance and better meet their needs. Elder law attorneys have the legal knowledge and skills to prepare binding documents and develop advanced tools such as irrevocable trusts.

Most elder law attorneys have a depth and range of experience that Medicaid planners simply cannot match. This enables them to see the full range of needs so they can help to accomplish immediate goals, such as qualifying for Medicaid, and long-term goals, such as avoiding Medicaid estate recovery and protecting the family farm for future generations. Medicaid planners tend to focus solely on establishing eligibility, and their services typically end at that point. Without a long-range plan, families may find themselves in a worse position financially with Medicaid than they would be if they’d tried to cover costs out of pocket.

Get The Right Assistance for Your Situation

For the most comprehensive protection while establishing eligibility for Medicaid, it is important to work with a professional who knows the best available strategies and has the expertise to put those strategies into action. Legal accuracy is crucial. That means you should consider working with an elder law attorney.

We’d be happy to talk to you about the ways Huizenga Law can help with Medicaid eligibility, applications, and appeals. Just give us a call.